Renewable energy can be intermittent. It is generated when the sun is shining or when the wind is blowing, meaning its availability doesn’t always coincide with when that energy is needed. As a result, solar and wind energy need to be backstopped by natural gas or other types of traditional power plants. Storage solutions for renewable energy could provide another option. One possible storage solution comes in the form of vanadium redox flow batteries.
In the oil sands, vanadium is one of the metals that comes out of the ground with bitumen and is largely viewed as a nuisance. Removing it makes the bitumen easier and more efficient to process and reduces the environmental impact of its production.
Once removed, vanadium’s high durability means it can be used to make rechargeable batteries that are highly scalable and easily recyclable. This makes vanadium redox flow batteries a key candidate for grid-scale electricity storage: storing renewable energy for on-demand use in anything from large utilities to residential applications.
In essence, extracting vanadium and using it for batteries is a win-win situation. It’s turning a by-product produced by the oil sands into a potentially valuable asset for the renewable energy industry that could benefit the sector worldwide.